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4 Must-Know Winter Skincare Rules from Facialist Cecilia Wong

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Cecilia Wong is an aesthetician based in New York. (Photo: Cecilia Wong Skincare

As a beauty writer, I’ve experienced my fair share of facials, and I’ve devised a simple way to guess at how fantastic my experience will be before I’ve even started: does my facialist have the kind of smooth, unblemished, seemingly ageless skin that makes me want to get down on my knees and beg for her secret? If the answer is yes, then I know I’m in for a memorable treat. 

So it was today, when I met Cecilia Wong at her tucked-away skincare salon in the Flatiron District of New York. The holistic facialist may have the most amazing skin I’ve ever seen, and her credentials are equally impressive. After leaving her job in fashion, Wong spent three years living and working in Hong Kong, where she opened a pop-up boutique and introduced clients to the then-largely unknown benefits of following an organic skincare regimen. Determined to develop her expertise stateside, Wong moved back to New York and worked for cult facialist Joanna Vargas before branching out on her own in 2009. Wong’s philosophy is that you should treat the problem from the root cause: by diligently applying the right herbs and oils along with incorporating non-invasive treatments, you can age well without resorting to extreme measures like Botox or Retin-A. 

While treating me to her signature Sculpt & Empower facial, Wong took the time to share the four winter skincare rules that every city dweller should follow. 

  • Buy a humidifier. The dry heat from radiators can really do a number on your skin, so let your humidifier run all night to restore moisture back into the air.
  • Take a toner with you on-the-go. Look for an alcohol-free version with calming ingredients like lavender, chamomile, or rose. Spritz your face whenever it’s feeling dry, even if you’re wearing makeup. Wong says this is like “giving your skin a drink of water.”
  • Double up on the hydration. In the winter, moisturizer alone may not be enough to truly replenish your skin, so always layer a serum underneath. One important caveat: never pair a vitamin C serum with a retinol cream. “Vitamin C is another name for ascorbic acid, which is similar to retinol in that it acts as an exfoliant to brighten skin,” Wong explains. “You never want to use two acids together.” 
  • Use masks more frequently. If you notice your skin feeling extra-dry, start slathering on a mask 3-5 times a week in the evenings. Try Wong’s DIY recipe, which is especially great for those with acne-prone or combination skin: mix together a few spoonfuls of organic greek yogurt with some crushed papaya and blueberries (any other kind of berries will also work). Leave on for 15-20 minutes. The yogurt has probiotic properties, which are great for combatting blemishes, while the papaya and blueberries are rich in antioxidants. 

—Mai

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